Edinburgh’s poppy factory celebrates 90th anniversary

Stuart Ballentine creates a wreath at Lady Haig's Poppy Factory. Picture: Toby Williams
Stuart Ballentine creates a wreath at Lady Haig's Poppy Factory. Picture: Toby Williams
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VETERANS at the famous Lady Haig’s Poppy Factory in the Capital have celebrated its 90th anniversary with a lunch for staff and loyal supporters.

Surrounded by wreaths, long stem poppies and remembrance crosses, they also discussed their most treasured memories of the factory and how it has grown throughout the years.

Lady Haig’s was founded on March 8, 1926, by Lady Dorothy Haig, who was the wife of Field Marshal Douglas Haig, the First World War army commander.

Today, it employs veterans with disabilities who hand-assemble around five million poppies and 8000 wreaths annually for the Scottish Poppy Appeal.

The factory first opened in the Canongate, moving to its current premises on Warriston Road in 1965.

Around 40 ex-service personnel continue to work in the factory, where they make poppies for the whole of Scotland.

Charlie Pelling, the manager of Lady Haig’s Poppy Factory, said he enjoyed welcoming back past employees to the 90th anniversary lunch.

He said: “We were looking forward to the lunch as it gave us the opportunity to celebrate the milestone with colleagues, past and present, and friends.

“From humble beginnings with two men, a pair of scissors and a piece of paper we continue to make poppies and wreaths today, firmly sticking to the ethos of employing veterans with disabilities.”

In 2011, the factory’s owner, Poppyscotland, merged with The Royal British Legion (TRBL), making the factory a member of the TRBL group of charities.

Since 2006, Lady Haig’s has been developing a programme of school visits in the month leading up to Remembrance Sunday.

These attract around 2000 pupils each year.

Primary 7 classes are treated to a presentation which gives visiting children a detailed 
account of the history of the factory. They also go on a tour of the shop floor and have the opportunity to make poppies themselves.

According to Lady Haig’s, demand for poppies has continued to strengthen, with wreath sales particularly robust.